Scouting – What To Wear And Carry
In a post-disaster world, the two extremes to choose from are 1. Hunker down and defend 2. Pack a bag and live as a permanent nomad. However, there is a middle option: Scouting. Keeping an eye on the borders to your region, for bandits, and for good people who may be allies. This particular compromise between taking off for good and hunkering down with your head in the sand is one of our funnest zones of imagination.
You want to carry a pack and weapons so that anyone else who’s scouting can’t tell whether you have a nice stash nearby, or are as nomadic as them. This means carrying food at all times that could sustain you for at least a few days, rather than, say, just going out with a 5 lb day pack.
Only Be Seen When You Want To Be Seen
If you feel the need to be fast, and light, and go scouting, do not underestimate the value of owning a very good head-to-toe set of camouflage clothing, even up to a full ghillie suit. If you’ve never gone to a woodsy paintball facility, do yourself a favor with some friends and family and plan a full day for it. When you’re playing a game, with paintball guns, on teams, in the woods … the nature of competition adds a layer of intensity and excitement that you won’t believe until you try it. And because you want to win that game of capture the flag, or base defense, or whatever other rules they employ for your entertainment, the advantage of camouflage will impress you more than any other time you can find in your life, unless you’ve served.
We all talk about it. That first time we were kids out paintballing in the woods, we all went to the army surplus store in the weeks before. Most of us didn’t get anything close to a ghillie suit, but we did have face paint, and camo hats, tough long sleeve shirts and pants of the same pattern, and even olive green and brown combat boots. And we’re here to tell you, when ten of you hunker down in a rough perimeter to cover each other’s backs and fronts, you get downright invisible, even when the other team gets real close. Blue jeans stand out like the Queen of Hearts in a hand full of clubs.
A Mini “Go Bag”
But if you’re scouting for a day or two in a wider range, you would want to pack just heavy enough that someone spying on you with binoculars won’t be able to guess you have a stocked home nearby. This deception doubles as an emergency back-up if you discover to your chagrin you are cut off from your home base, for days, or forever.
Keep your pump water filter with you, the lightest portable camp stove you have, sleeping pad and bag, changes of underwear and rain poncho, etc. It makes things heavier, but people who are used to backpacking know you can find that sweet spot between hauling around a ridiculous gear bubble weighing 50+ pounds, and going a bit lighter, but still with some really good items that keep you ready for unexpected changes of plan.
If you already read our basic discussion of firearms, this is where you have to balance carrying weight versus all around utility. Some won’t ever give up carrying their rifle, and we get that for sure, while others keep that .45 Glock or that .357 S&W snug in their hip holster, loaded, with reloads or clips hand in a pocket, and a box or two (or three) of ammo in their pack. The ever-present K-Bar knife you will never leave home without? Other hip. For protection, we also recommend this great deal on a Raptor Claw Karambit knife.
A Spade Is A Spade
But as long as we find ourselves discussing gear, and worried about overall carry weight, there is one last item we have not mentioned before, which we admire for its utility and multitasking... a collapsible shovel. They serve as the single best emergency shelter building tool you can carry, and as a very effective close combat weapon against animal or human attackers. While we will never lower one great knife from the top of our list of most critical essentials, a shovel can help you dig a complete hole, chop branches to cover it, and excavate entire bushes to camouflage the cover, faster than you might imagine. Digging a fire pit in windy conditions, or even digging for water, the shovel is perhaps one of the older and more underrated tools that helped mankind rise.
There are some out there that fold up nice, compact, and very light, yet are strong enough they’ll stand up to a whole lot of abuse. The sharpened edge is dangerous and requires you to be careful, but is essential, as so often the need to dig is accompanied by the need to chop. And back to that concept of being spied upon … that one piece of gear strapped to your pack could mislead an enemy scout into suspecting you’re looking for a place, rather than coming from one. It’s a tough call when every pound makes you slower, possibly noisier, and less capable of sneaking through tight spaces, but whether you take it with you or leave it home, one of those survival shovels doesn’t go bad over time, is useful in countless situations, stores in tight places, and so it should be in your inventory.
We don’t recommend leaving a good situation lightly. It’s more than okay to hide out sometimes. It’s healthy to learn how to be alone in solitude, and anymore we rarely get that chance. But at one point the act of sharing builds a warm fire in our souls, and that is something preppers who love the idea of self-sufficiency would do well to remember.